The Cape May County Park & Zoo in Cape May Court House is one of the county’s most-visited attractions, and for good reason, its fans say.
“I think it’s beautiful. We love all the animals,” said Colleen Biggs, 44, of Pittsgrove Township.
The attraction at Exit 11 of the Garden State Parkway in Middle Township is free, but donations are welcome. It is home to more than 500 animals in exhibits spread across 74 wooded acres.
Among this year’s new attractions are a baby giraffe, born in December, and a new snow-leopard exhibit featuring a ceiling-to-floor glass wall to provide clear views.
Visitor Ryan Gelburd, 29, of New Cumberland, Pa., suggests coming in the morning when it’s less hot and the animals are more active.
“Also bring a stroller for the kids,” he said. “They get tired after about an hour.”
The zoo offers stroller rentals for those who forget.
Among the must-sees:
“For me it’s definitely the lion,” said Jennine Williams, 37, of Vineland.
She toured the zoo with her 4-year-old, Rahzir, who was partial to the alligators.
Lex and Bella, the twin lions, can be heard roaring throughout the day.
“We go to the playground, too. Be prepared to spend money if you eat here. Lunch was $18 for the two of us,” she said. “But we’re used to those prices when we go to the Philadelphia Zoo, so it all works out.”
To generate extra revenue, Cape May County Tourism Director Diane Wieland said, the zoo is offering more special programs this summer such as a junior zookeeper class and after-hour tours. Go to www.cmczoo.com for details.
The zoo also offers weekday summer camps for children from kindergarten to eighth grade.
“As we all know, there is no such thing as a free zoo. So these programs will raise some revenue to pay for expenses,” she said.
People can use the site to reserve the park’s 14 pavilions for picnics or birthday parties. The fee is $60, $90 or $120 depending on the size of the party.
And construction is under way on a new Tree to Tree Adventure ropes course and zipline.
The park also has hiking trails, a playground and a Frisbee golf course. But unless you’re the Jack Nicklaus of Frisbee golf, not all holes are playable on weekends because of parked cars at the pavilions.
“I’m impressed. I like it. For a smaller zoo, it really is great,” said Stefanie Hollinger, 36, of Downington, Pa. “You get some exercise seeing all the exhibits.”